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August 17th

…Game Bias, Sidney Fussell and Jed Pessgrove have a conversation about the general “race in games” discussion point, making sharp observations with Bioshock Infinite and The Walking Dead, as well as interrogating the presumption of post-racialism. And at Polygon, LeSean Payne gives us personal reflections on his relationship with black characters in videogames and media.

Extended Reading

I’m going to note Zoya’s book again, because it’s near the end of its crowdfunding and it can use all the support it can get.

There are other book/magazines out as well. The new Five Out of Ten issue on…

October 19th

…game’s treatment of its protagonist, Amanda Ripley, as truly befitting the heroine template exemplified by Sigourney Weaver’s character in the Alien film series. And from a visual standpoint, PC Gamer’s Andy Kelly shares how the game stacks up next to the aesthetics of the original film in a side-by-side slideshow.

Finally, at Eurogamer, Jeffrey Matulef shares a bit of optimism that Alien: Isolation is but the latest in a broader trend in high-budget, first-person games (including The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite) to offer a more contemplative, sedate experience.

Listen and Believe

As we now enter…

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Now Accepting Submissions for TYIVGB 2014 Edition

…the year. Like from last year — BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us, Gone Home and so on. We want example pieces that highlight the discussion that took place around those games.

3. Any example pieces from the important voices and platforms (critics and sites) that stood out this year. These are the pieces that best highlight or represent the critics’ writing and work throughout the year.

4. Any pieces pertaining to gaming culture that highlight a conversation from this year. Large compilation pieces are preferred should they exist or pieces that otherwise capture the scope and variety…

December 6th

…backers, and he’s even made a nice PDF). Beirne also examines the consequentialism of Anthony Burch’s ‘morality run’ of BioShock, which we featured last week. Wait a minute, didn’t Ed Smith do a similar thing for Five out of Ten last year? (spoilers: yes.)

Evan Conley stretches the definition of ‘little’ in this essay on horror in games as pure “Gothic-horror” compared to a mere feeling of tension, and whether The Evil Within is actually an action game with elements of survival horror. For a different kind of horror, Paul King looks at crime drama game The Detail (piece…

January 11th

…the devil’s name into the mirror three times in a related discussion and offers his own take, suggesting that compromising narrative to offer an illusion of play cheapens a game:

Games that employ post-cutscene design ideology tend to be marketed as ‘immersive experiences’ with ‘living, breathing worlds.’ Bioshock Infinite is not a living, breathing world; it is a flashy museum with freaky animatronics.

The Buyer Knows Best

Media philosopher Ian Bogost ended 2014 skeptical of Eric Zimmerman’s “ludic century,” suggesting that instead of dominating our culture, maybe games should just be a small part of…

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February 2015

…last 7 years throughout the interview.

Over on DoubleFineProd’s channel, JP LeBreton sits down with John Romero to show him his demake of of Bioshock’s Arcadia level constructed in the Doom 2 engine.

The Short and the Long of It

Bringing us another short and sweet bit of games criticism, Stephen Beirne discusses the ways Final Fantasy VII “relates drama through its broader composition.”

Elsewhere, SF Debris provides a complete playthrough of System Shock 2, but each chapter of the game is broken into two videos: one with commentary from…

Deadly Premonition

…shocking final revelations about Zach’s ‘other’ identity.

“Cinephilia as Characterization”

Drew Byrd, in his blog entry “Deadly Premonition, Mass Effect 3, Bioshock Infinite: Three Choices, or No Choice?” praises the device as a “satisfying middle ground between choice-driven story development and a focused creative vision” when contrasted against other so-called ‘choice based’ narratives, stating that is in an effective mechanism for directly integrating the player into the events of the game world.

Such enthusiasm was shared by Daniel Weissenberger who put together an extensive 11-part series on Deadly Premonition, celebrating it as’s Game of the Year…

June 28th

…our generation who unlocks the artistic potential of videogames as a medium, it will be the next, the one that grows up on BioShock and Noby Noby Boy, the generation who goes into gaming without any preconceived notions about fun.

Until Next Time

That’s it for this week! Remember to send us your crit picks for consideration by email or Twitter mention, and share our stuff on Facebook.

You have a little time left to submit to June’s This Month in Let’s Plays and Blogs of the Round Table.

As always, Critical Distance is completely…

July 2015

…with developers Steve Gaynor and Karla Zimonja. In addition to making sure Wallace didn’t miss any special gems, Gaynor and Zimonja discuss their design choices, where specific content came from, and other interesting tidbits about their creation process.

Elsewhere, Chris Franklin of Errant Signal analyzes The Magic Circle, a game aptly described as a game about game developers. Operating perhaps as an open letter to the game’s industry, Franklin notes that perhaps the games creators — alumni of Bioshock and Dishonored — have some “battle stories to tell” with this game.

Due Diligence

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October 25th

…in the other position of trying to minimize tension in an inherently tense situation.

Our very own Riley MacLeod contributes to The Ontological Geek’s series on mental health in gaming with this article on Bioshock Infinite and traumatic feedback loops (Content warning: PTSD). MacLeod summarizes the struggle both the protagonist and villain suffer as a self-perpetuating cycle:

Neither Comstock nor Booker are good men. They’ve done terrible things, and they deal with their pasts by continuing to do terrible things, to other people and to themselves. For both of them, trauma and their responses become a…